Somebody will rear your children. In fact, a number of somebodys will. One of the chief responsibilities of a parent is to recognize his God-given responsibility both to be that primary somebody and to screen who those other somebodys will be.
Always keep in mind that our goal in guiding the lives of our children is that of reaching and shaping their hearts for God. And when children’s hearts are where they need to be, parental hearts can rejoice: “My son, if thine heart be wise, my heart shall rejoice, even mine. Yea, my reins shall rejoice, when thy lips speak right things” (Proverbs 23:15–16).
So how can parents win the battle for a child’s heart? Is there an effective strategy they can employ against those who would seek to shape them differently? Is there yet hope for another godly generation in the darkened society in which we live? Of course! But first, we must know our enemy.
Know That Your Enemy Is Real
Scripture is replete with instruction regarding both the reality and power of the enemies of the Christian. Most of us already know that believers battle the devil, the flesh, and the world (1 John 2:15–17). Viewing these enemies as a unit, we learn that Christians face a destructive enemy (1 Peter 5:8) whose philosophies and personnel occupy primary spots in our society (Ephesians 6:12; Colossians 2:8).
Simply put, our enemy is savvy, powerful, and intent on destroying our children’s future. Add to all of this the fact that we Christians fight not only these real enemies on the outside, but also the insidious enemy of the flesh on the inside (James 4:1). This is not the bogeyman or some fictional and frightening creation of Hollywood. No, this is the very real enemy of every Christian. This is your enemy.
Without a doubt, sinners are repeatedly enticing (Proverbs 1:10), and the world is continually endeavoring to stamp its image upon each of its inhabitants (Romans 12:2). We fight a real battle against a real enemy. The stakes could not be any higher. Indeed, eternity is in the balance.
Know That Your Enemy Is Strategic
Let’s examine the strategy of this enemy a bit more closely, especially in light of the fact that the devil and this world system have captured modern culture. Their agenda is in place and the voice of biblical Christianity is increasingly becoming a whisper.
Culture relentlessly endeavors to connect with your children. In fact, the majority culture has mastered the concept of a target audience. Your children have a bull’s eye on their backs. And within her arsenal, culture has the latest tricks and technologies to choose from.
Oh, by the way, she is in the battle for the long term. She’s not giving up. Patiently, culture waits for change to occur in the lives of your children. Saturation is her goal. Sound bites and fleeting images are repeated with such regularity that they become the very thoughts our children think—and the way they think!
Unless effectively resisted, culture shapes people. It literally changes their image. The goal of the enemy is the antithesis of God’s goal for your life. His goal for us? Christlikeness, transformation to His image (Romans 8:29; 2 Corinthians 3:18). The enemy’s goal for us? To stamp its image upon our lives, an image that reveals itself in our attitudes, priorities, mindsets, and appearances.
Know That Your Enemy Has a Message
The enemy always gives an altar call. Come and kneel before her. Listen to her message. Believe it. Submit to it. Indeed, “ye shall be as gods.” And what is this message the enemy preaches so religiously?
Primarily she preaches the one word message of “self.” At the core of every sin is pride. At the center of the enemy’s attack is a focus on self. Self-focus, self-esteem, self-love, self-satisfaction, and every other kind of selfishness are the key points of the devil’s message (1 John 2:15–17). In essence, his message can be encapsulated by this instruction: “Consider yourself first.”
Another key message of the enemy is “stuff.” The idolatry of our culture is covetousness and its grip has literally strangled our society (Colossians 3:5). Not content with what God has provided, we can easily fall prey to the love of money, a love that entraps its lover and ultimately destroys him. In the embrace of covetousness we lose our perspective of what earthly pursuits are spiritually noble. Those who foolishly respond to the altar call of “stuff” become little more than the pathetic builders of bigger barns.
“Indulge yourself. Get as much stuff as you can. Satisfy your fleshly desires and expect no negative consequences for doing so.” This is her message. For six millennia it has not changed. And why should it? It’s more effective than ever.
Know That Your Enemy Is Subtle
Our enemy is so seductive! She rarely declares who she is, where she is, or how she plans to attack. Fortunately for the believer, we have reliable intelligence on which to depend. Praise the Lord for that!